SpringSoft Unveils Unique Automated Custom Digital IC Place and Route Tools

SpringSoft, Inc., a global supplier
of specialized IC design software, today introduced two new
products aimed at addressing the increasing challenge of designing
custom chips that contain both analog and digital circuitry.
Building on its expertise in automated custom design with its
Laker suite of custom IC design solutions, the company
unveiled its Laker
Custom Row Placer and Laker
Custom Digital Router. The tools are fully compatible with
the Laker
Custom Layout Automation System, allowing designers to work
within a single custom IC layout environment to efficiently
place-and-route both digital custom cells and standard cells for
either mixed-signal or custom digital designs.

As with the existing Laker system, the new tools
are fully compliant with the industry-standard OpenAccess database, providing a truly interoperable platform for designers
to develop heterogeneous tool environments for their complete
custom IC design flow. The new place-and route solutions are tuned
for custom IC layout with custom digital and mixed-signal blocks,
eliminating the need for hand-layout or exporting design data to a
traditional digital place-and-route tool. The solutions also
allow precise design of custom digital blocks to meet the critical
size and power requirements that often times can not be achieved
through general purpose automated place-and-route tools.

“The changing
nature of mixed-signal chips – greater intermingling of digital
with analog and much greater use of digital standard cells in
mixed-signal blocks, smaller geometries, increased performance needs,
and low-power constraints – requires a more efficient and integrated
approach to custom IC design. These new tools build on the strong
foundation of custom IC design technology in our Laker system and
add very efficient automation for the digital portions of
designs,” said Duncan McDonald, director of product marketing for
Custom IC Design Solutions at SpringSoft.

Custom Row Placer

For placement of digital blocks, the Laker Custom
Row Placer supports standard cell and custom cell design
(including double height cell). It uses proprietary automation
techniques to perform incremental selection and placement, as well
as internal iterations to pack the placement area. It also
utilizes stacking utilities for datapath-style placement. The row
placer also assists routing with features for row snapping and
overlap removal as well as diffusion sharing for area minimization.

The Laker
Custom Row Placer and Custom Digital Router are fully integrated
with the Laker layout system, providing users with the same
comprehensive editing features, such as alignment and distribution,
boundary update and overlap check. The Custom Row Placer also performs
transparent data preparation and congestion minimization for the
Custom Digital Router. Although the Custom Row Placer is not
timing driven, it does placement for minimum wire length.

Custom Digital Router

The Laker Custom Digital Router is aimed at
digital design portions (less than 50K cells), and is not timing
driven. Routing is done directly in the Laker database, or in
OpenAccess, and is supported with LEF/DEF import and export
capabilities. The initial release supports 40-nanometer (nm) rules
with 28nm rules to follow in future releases.

The Laker
Custom Router is a hybrid router with both gridded and shape-based
routing technologies. It allows off-grid routing to reach
off-grid pins, and uses shape-based routing to fix any design rule
violations. The router supports 3D global route and features a
congestion analysis map and display. It correlates with the Custom Row
Placer to ensure routable placement. It has a full suite of fixing
utilities such as support for end-of-line spacing,
min-edge/min-area, enclosure edge, and post-route optimization. It
also allows a separate post-route DRC verification run, offering
an error viewer to easily see DRC violations.


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